The truth is, I couldn’t face doing an entirely Kenyan meal. Despite how excited I was at the prospect of giving my piece the title “Kikuyu Night!” there was no way I was actually going to do an authentic Kikuyu meal, given the lack of spice and other fun condiments that populate this segment of our national plate. So me being me, I decided to cheat, because as should now be obvious, I was born to cheat (in the kitchen that is, what did you think I meant?).
For a while I toyed with the idea of making both Mukimo, deliciously creamy mashed potatoes with pumpkin leaves, corn and maize and Githeri, the other Kikuyu national dish which consists of boiled beans and maize. A friend of mine is prone to joking that for all the variety in vegetables that come out of the fertile Central Kenyan lands, our imaginations are so limited that we could only come up with two dishes in which we stick all said veggies, without any real consideration to highlighting their individual qualities. Either way, when I pitched the idea to Luan, he rolled his eyes and pleaded with me to just make Mukimo because, he says, all the beans in Githeri give him gas.
When I told my friends at dinner the other night that I was planning on cooking a Kikuyu heritage meal, they got very excited and told me that I should do the whole goat slaughtering ritual. Luan did not share their enthusiasm though, because if we were to follow tradition it would basically have meant he had to do the whole thing himself. I did however briefly consider making mutura— Kikuyu blood sausage— but again, being a woman means I’m technically not allowed to do this. Also, when it boils right down to it, the idea of milking an intestine of it’s faecal content and then filling it up with blood just feels like a bit too much work for me at the moment. Maybe at the next family get-together I’ll be able to convince one of the more foodie elders in the clan to rustle up some proper traditional mutura, but for the time being, best stick to less icky preparations.
In the end when Kikuyu night was finally upon us, we decided that I would make mukimo with a Swahili-inspired mchicha (amaranth leaves) side, while Luan would make lamb chops with caramelised onions and feta cheese. Sure, the last part really isn’t Kenyan by any stretch of the imagination, but I guessed (quite rightly as it turned out) that the saltiness of the feta cheese would balance out very well with the sweetness of coconut and peanut infused greens.
I’m still determined to make a good Githeri at some point though. There is a little local restaurant called Double Portion that sits on Chiromo road between Muthithi road and the highway. They put carrots and onions and all sorts of other veggies in it and truth be told I think it’s quite delicious. I’ll just have to wait until Luan is away so I don’t have to share a bed with him and his gas.